WHEN HE was a student, Ramon “Chito” F. Villavicencio dabbled in Basketball and Football. Today as the man behind the success of Flying V, he and his company are bent on helping Philippine sports fly to greater heights.
The sportsman known in the corporate setting as RFV is excited about their newest venture, the Flying V Thunder, a basketball team set to compete in next month’s PBA D-League Foundation Cup. Having a commercial basketball team is a logical step after years of sponsoring collegiate sports.
“We want to unify basketball by having former rivals on the same team,” said Villavicencio. The Thunder will be handled by champion coach Eric Altamirano and is still in the process of finalizing its roster via a series of closed door tryouts that has allegedly attracted a bevy of collegiate superstars and solid free agents that could make them an instant contender.
Flying V started by sponsoring the De La Salle University Basketball squad, placing their logo on the Green Archers’ jerseys. His son Raffy became one of the team’s managers.
The younger Villavicencio then proposed the idea of holding a preseason tournament and the plan was immediately approved. It would accord the Green Archers the chance to prepare well for the coming UAAP while scouting their opponents’ tactics thus giving birth to what is now the FilOil Flying V Premier Cup that will open its 11th edition this coming April 29.
While searching for a suitable venue, the group came across the San Juan Arena. To cut the long story short, the partnership eventually led to Flying V taking over the management of the facility and renaming it the FilOil Flying V Center.
The venue has undergone big improvements since the team took over and has played host to such sporting events like the NCAA, UAAP, PBA D-League, Shakey’s V-League and Philippine Super Liga as well as several entertainment events and private occasions. The Volleyball boom of the last 10 years has made the FilOil Flying V Centre the sport’s venue of choice.
Because of the Volleyball boom, Flying V has also extended its sponsorship to the DLSU Women’s Volleyball team and the company logo also appears prominently on the Lady Spikers’ uniforms. Aside from the popular Basketball and Volleyball, the company has extended assistance to other sports as well.
A sport close to the Villavicencio Family’s heart is Ice Hockey. It started when Mikey, one of RFV’s 34 grandchildren, decided to take up the sport at the local mall.
Mikey’s father Christopher Sy wondered why his son was hanging out at the mall way past closing hours so he decided to check it out. Today, the elder Sy is the president of the Federation of Ice Hockey Leagues, the national sports association recognized by the Philippine Olympic Committee and Philippine Sports Commission.
Sy himself was a solid athlete in his youth representing DLSU in tennis up to the time the school bolted the NCAA in 1981. As FIHL president, he is tasked with forming the national teams.
The Philippines is coming off a Bronze Medal finish in the last Winter Asian Games in Japan for Division II behind former Soviet republics Turkmenistan and Kyrgyzstan. For the Southeast Asian Games later this year in Malaysia, the Philippines is targeting at least a Silver Medal as they try to dislodge early favorites Thailand and Singapore which competed in Division I in the WAG.
A few years ago, Flying V also had a preseason Football tournament in Nuvali for NCAA and UAAP sides but the project to be shelved. However, the company is looking at reviving the tournament once new venues are completed like the one at the DLSU-Canlubang campus but there is always the possibility of entering into a similar agreement with an existing pitch to manage it just like the FilOil Flying V Centre.
Definitely, Flying V has generated a lot of goodwill from its sponsorship of sports. As they enter their 20th year in the oil industry, the company will always have sports as part of their corporate social responsibility program.